Payasam Dessert From Tamil Feasts

After a month of sharing recipes from Tamil Feasts (விருந்து), we wrap up this delicious and easy-to-try series with… dessert, of course!

The cherry on top comes in the form of Payasam, a Sri Lankan style tapioca pudding.

Thanks so much for teaching us a few of your secrets (and drastically improving our cooking-for-vego-friends capabilities) chefs Nigethan, Niro, Nirma and Richman!


Nigethan and Nirma in the kitchen preparing a feastPhoto – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Payasam for one. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Spices are integral to this sweet. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

People enjoying a feast at the CERES’ The Merri TablePhoto – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

31st of July 2018

At a recent Tamil Feasts event, cook Niro was asked if he had any family here in Australia. ‘No, no family,’ he said. ‘Just everyone here’. He then motioned toward the kitchen, busy with volunteers and the rest of our crew, and then to the tables with remaining feasters finishing off their desserts. ‘Every week, my family expands’.

Today we are sharing the same dessert, which Niro, Nirma and Richman and I make to finish off the meal we prepare for our wonderful guests – I hope you enjoy it too!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 tsp cardamom pods

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cup water

1 cup tapioca or sago

1/2 cup coconut sugar

3 cups milk (or milk substitute)

1/2 cup sultanas

1/2 cup cashews

(We used pistachios and saffron threads to garnish)


Dry roast the spices (cardamom and cinnamon) in a pan for a few minutes.

Bring the water to the boil in a separate pan.

Add the sago, milk, sugar and spices and cook for 20 minutes, adding the sultanas and cashews in the last 5 minutes.

Add more liquid during cooking if needed.

Adjust the sweetness with additional sugar as desired.


How can you support Tamil Feasts?

‘Come along and enjoy a delicious feast, bring your friends, meet the guys and welcome them into the community! Sign up to volunteer and learn how to make the best curry in town,’ welcomes project coordinator Emma McCann.

‘Each night one of the men will share their own personal stories with our diners. They also love visiting tables and chatting with people about everything and anything. Through food and sharing their stories, they are breaking down barriers.’

Run by not-for-profit CERES, Tamil Feasts are very popular and bookings are essential. Check out the website for more information.

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